Stephen Kovacevich

Stephen Kovacevich is one of the most revered musicians of his generation. He has won unsurpassed admiration for his interpretation of Beethoven, Brahms, Mozart and Schubert. A Grammy nominated artist, Kovacevich has a long list of recordings for Philips and EMI. Most recently he has released, to unanimous critical praise, Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations for Onyx Classics, forty years after his first recording of the work.

Stephen Kovacevich ‘Artist of the Week’ on BBC Radio 3

18 Sep 2015

Stephen will feature on the BBC Radio 3 Essential Classics programme as ‘Artist of the Week’, commencing 21 September.  Several of his recordings will be aired throughout the week...

Kovacevich - The BBC interview & Gramophone accolade

20 Aug 2015

As Stephen approaches his 75th birthday, James Naughtie discuss his ongoing career as pianist, recording artist and pedagogue, including his close connection with the music of Bartok,...

Stephen Kovacevich interviewed by BBC Music Magazine

17 Aug 2015

As Stephen approaches his 75th birthday, James Naughtie discuss his ongoing career as pianist, recording artist and pedagogue, including his close connection with the music of Bartok,...

Stephen Kovacevich celebrates 75 years with major London concerts & Decca releases complete Philips recordings

06 Jul 2015

This Autumn sees the 75th birthday of Stephen Kovacevich: among the most distinguished pianists of this century. To mark the occasion, he will be performing twice at London’s Wigmore...

Stephen Kovacevich performs at Salle Pleyel, Paris

15 Dec 2014

Stephen Kovacevich will perform a solo recital on 16 December at Salle Pleyel in Paris.  His opening work is Bach’s Partita No.4 followed by Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 30 and Schubert’s...

Kovacevich live on BBC Radio 3 in Bristol

07 Oct 2014

Stephen Kovacevich is to perform at St George’s Hall, Bristol on Friday 10 October at 19:30 as part of the BBC Radio 3 ‘The Brahms Experience’ series.  As an unassailable Brahmsian Stephen...

Stephen Kovacevich returns to Montreal Symphony Orchestra to critical acclaim

11 Jun 2013

Stephen Kovacevich made a welcome return to Montreal performing Mozart’s Piano Concerto No.18 with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra under the baton of David Zinman...

Stephen Kovacevich directs Ensemble Orchestral de Paris

16 May 2011

Stephen Kovacevich appears with Ensemble Orchestral de Paris on Tuesday 17 May in a programme devoted to Beethoven and Mozart. Kovacevich features as soloist with violinist Deborah Nemtanu in...

Stephen Kovacevich in Beijing

12 Jan 2011

Stephen Kovacevich travels to Beijing to perform Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No 4 with the National Centre for the Performing Arts Orchestra.

Stephen Kovacevich celebrates his 70th Birthday

30 Sep 2010

Stephen Kovacevich celebrates his 70th Birthday at the Wigmore Hall and is joined on stage by friends, Martha Argerich, Khatia Buniatishvili and the Belcea Quartet. Music includes Brahms’ Piano...

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“Pianist Stephen Kovacevich joined the orchestra in the first half to perform Beethoven's fourth piano concerto. Kovacevich is a renowned Beethoven interpreter and his account largely focused on the work's intrinsic lyricism. There was nothing brash about Kovacevich's thoughtful, elegant pianism. His refined tone, nuanced dynamics and dextrous sotto voce passagework were impressive.”

The Australian 20 February 2012 - Feb 2012

“…Kovacevich excelled – At the close, the transcendent finale, a tender minuet, thundered back to earth with one short fortissimo crash. Kovacevich whipped his hands from the keys as if scorched.”

The Observer - Feb 2009

“Stephen Kovacevich is a master to be admired; faithful to the spirit of the music yet always individual, his pianistic artistry reside in his sculpted sound, risk-taking, utmost focus and uniquely attractive, variegated touch.”

International Piano - Apr 2009

“His understanding of Beethoven’s juxtapositions of beauty and crudity, reflection and action, and the sheer dynamic range are fully exposed…Kovacevich brings an easy brilliance to the light tripping Courante and the bold contours of the final Gigue. Nor is he afraid to make Bach his own, drawing the listener in with his sotto voce Allemande, adding ornaments and playing around with rhythms, but all is done with the utmost musicality. Altogether, a disc to treasure.”

Gramophone – Editor’s Choice - Jan 2009

“Kovacevich lifted the lid on the music’s subtleties, its spontaneity and diversity of colour… he elucidated the character of each variation, at times with delicacy and lightness but also with power, acuity of rhythm and, above all, with a firm sense that the work, for all its sly diversions, had structure and cohesion, grandeur and inevitability.”

The Daily Telegraph - Jan 2009

“It had music greater than any one performance can be...This also was a rare encounter with an artist in maturity who recently had surpassed himself in the work that had made his reputation as a youth. So in several ways the recital was unusual, moving, memorable... Control that sounded effortless brought some of the fastest, clearest and most delicate playing. Power was held in reserve. When steam did build up and got discharged, as in later, faster variations and the great broken-off fugue, the effect was of tremendous energy flung, like fireballs by a catapult. Still, the impression overall was of naturalness eventually achieving radiance.”

Chicago Tribune (Recital at Chicago Symphony Centre - 28 February 2010) - Feb 2010

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Stephen Kovacevich is one of the most searching interpreters.  As a pianist he has won unsurpassed admiration for his playing of Beethoven, Brahms, Mozart and Schubert.

Born in Los Angeles, Stephen Kovacevich made his concert debut as a pianist at the age of eleven.  When he was eighteen he moved to England to study with Dame Myra Hess.  Since then his international reputation has been built both on his concert appearances, renowned for their thoughtfulness and re-creative intensity, and on the highly acclaimed recordings he has made throughout his career. He has appeared with many of the world’s finest orchestras and conductors including Colin Davis, Hans Graf, Bernard Haitink, Kurt Masur, Simon Rattle and Georg Solti.

Stephen Kovacevich remains a consummate and insightful performer: After a recent performance in Barcelona in January 2014, one critic remarked “Kovacevich gave, without any limitation, the measure of a truly great artist” (El Mundo)

Performance highlights this season include two recitals at the Salle Pleyel Paris ( December 2014 and May 2015), an extensive tour of the Far East including Korea, Taiwan and China, alongside a live BBC Radio 3 broadcast to celebrate their week long focus on Brahms in October 2014 as well as recitals in London (Wigmore Hall), Boston, Dublin and Cardiff to name a few. Recent concerto highlights include a triumphant return to Montreal Symphony Orchestra (under David Zinman), Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra (with Sylvain Cambreling), Malaysian Philharmonic (Jacek Kaspszyk), Orchestre de chambre de Paris (John Nelson) and Sydney Symphony Orchestra (Vladimir Ashkenazy). Stephen recently performed to a sell out audience for his recital at the International Piano Series at the Queen Elisbaeth Hall in London. In addition, Stephen is a regular soloist at the Verbier and Lugano festivals.

Stephen Kovacevich has enjoyed two long-term relationships with recording companies, first Philips and then EMI.  Great projects of his work with EMI include a compelling series of Schubert Sonatas and a set of the 32 Beethoven Sonatas completed in 2003, hailed as one of the most authoritative ever recorded.  One critic described The Hammerklavier as: ‘an unflinching, sometimes combative view of a titanic masterpiece, and a version to be spoken of in the same breath as those of Brendel, Gilels and Pollini...’ Kovacevich announces the music’s potency from the first bar. He also worked extensively with Colin Davis recording the Piano Concertos of Beethoven and Brahms and most notably Bartok’s Piano Concerto No.2.

In 2009 Stephen Kovacevich released, to unanimous critical praise, Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations for Onyx Classics, exactly forty years after his first recording of the work for Philips in 1968. The Financial Times wrote, ’a temperamental, almost explosive approach that resonates with rhythmic and nervous energy but also leaves room for elegance, wit and introspection. Kovacevich’s journey is always engrossing and never less than Beethovenian.’ This recording won the 2009 Classic FM Gramophone Editor’s Choice Award.

Stephen Kovacevich is a committed chamber music player who, from the beginning of his career, collaborated with Jacqueline du Pré for their celebrated recording of Beethoven’s Sonatas No. 3 and 5.  Other past and present partners include Steven Isserlis, Gautier Capuçon, Renaud Capuçon, Kyung-wha Chung, Truls Mørk, Emmanuel Pahud, Anna Larsson, Khatia Buniatishvili, Belcea Quartet, Philippe Graffin, Alina Ibragimova and Martha Agerich.

September 2015